Napoli win two-point appeal, boosts title hopes

Paolo Cannavaro of SSC Napoli attends a press conference in Beijing on August 9, 2012. Italian football federation (FIGC) officials on Thursday overturned sanctions handed to Napoli which saw the Serie A title-chasers deducted two points

Napoli's Serie A title hopes received a boost on Thursday when they had a two-point sanction overturned by the Italian football federation (FIGC).

The decision allows Napoli to move into second place in the table on 42 points, three behind leaders Juventus.

Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro and teammate Gianluca Grava, suspected of playing a role in a match-fixing affair, were also cleared, according to the FIGC.

A statement said: "The two-points penalty deduction has been annulled and Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava have been acquitted. Napoli will now pay a fine of 50,000 euros."

Cannavaro and fellow defender Grava were initially banned for six months for "failing to report evidence of corruption", the federation said when the initial sanction was handed down on December 18.

The FIGC's disciplinary committee had also suspended former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello for three years and three months for his involvement in an attempt to fix the match in question, between Napoli and Sampdoria on May 16, 2010.

Gianello's ban was also reduced on appeal, to one year and nine months.

The case is separate from a wider criminal investigation into suspect matches headed by prosecutors in three Italian cities that has implicated players from the top flight and second-tier Serie B.

This season, Serie A sides Siena have been docked six points, Atalanta two and Torino one as a result of the illegal betting investigation.

"Justice has been done," Grava told the Napoli website, adding that it was the "end of a nightmare".

Cannavaro, the brother of Italy's 2006 World Cup winner Fabio, added: "It's a huge joy. Half an hour after, I was crying."

Coach Walter Mazzarri admitted he was overjoyed for his players.

"It was a terrible Christmas for them, they were victims of a huge injustice."